Skip to main content

Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out

The Communist Manifesto foresaw the predatory and polarised global capitalism of the 21st century. But Marx and Engels also showed us that we have the power to create a better world.

by Yanis Varoufakis

Part 7 - Collective, democratic political action is our only chance for freedom and enjoyment

The manifesto is one of those emotive texts that speak to each of us differently at different times, reflecting our own circumstances. Some years ago, I called myself an erratic, libertarian Marxist and I was roundly disparaged by non-Marxists and Marxists alike. Soon after, I found myself thrust into a political position of some prominence, during a period of intense conflict between the then Greek government and some of capitalism’s most powerful agents. Rereading the manifesto for the purposes of writing this introduction has been a little like inviting the ghosts of Marx and Engels to yell a mixture of censure and support in my ear.

Adults in the Room, my memoir of the time I served as Greece’s finance minister in 2015, tells the story of how the Greek spring was crushed via a combination of brute force (on the part of Greece’s creditors) and a divided front within my own government. It is as honest and accurate as I could make it. Seen from the perspective of the manifesto, however, the true historical agents were confined to cameo appearances or to the role of quasi-passive victims. “Where is the proletariat in your story?” I can almost hear Marx and Engels screaming at me now. “Should they not be the ones confronting capitalism’s most powerful, with you supporting from the sidelines?

Thankfully, rereading the manifesto has offered some solace too, endorsing my view of it as a liberal text – a libertarian one, even. Where the manifesto lambasts bourgeois-liberal virtues, it does so because of its dedication and even love for them. Liberty happiness, autonomy, individuality, spirituality, self-guided development are ideals that Marx and Engels valued above everything else. If they are angry with the bourgeoisie, it is because the bourgeoisie seeks to deny the majority any opportunity to be free. Given Marx and Engels’ adherence to Hegel’s fantastic idea that no one is free as long as one person is in chains, their quarrel with the bourgeoisie is that they sacrifice everybody’s freedom and individuality on capitalism’s altar of accumulation.

Although Marx and Engels were not anarchists, they loathed the state and its potential to be manipulated by one class to suppress another. At best, they saw it as a necessary evil that would live on in the good, post-capitalist future coordinating a classless society. If this reading of the manifesto holds water, the only way of being a communist is to be a libertarian one. Heeding the manifesto’s call to “Unite!” is in fact inconsistent with becoming card-carrying Stalinists or with seeking to remake the world in the image of now-defunct communist regimes.

When everything is said and done, then, what is the bottom line of the manifesto? And why should anyone, especially young people today, care about history, politics and the like?

Marx and Engels based their manifesto on a touchingly simple answer: authentic human happiness and the genuine freedom that must accompany it. For them, these are the only things that truly matter. Their manifesto does not rely on strict Germanic invocations of duty, or appeals to historic responsibilities to inspire us to act. It does not moralise, or point its finger. Marx and Engels attempted to overcome the fixations of German moral philosophy and capitalist profit motives, with a rational, yet rousing appeal to the very basics of our shared human nature.

Key to their analysis is the ever-expanding chasm between those who produce and those who own the instruments of production. The problematic nexus of capital and waged labour stops us from enjoying our work and our artefacts, and turns employers and workers, rich and poor, into mindless, quivering pawns who are being quick-marched towards a pointless existence by forces beyond our control.

But why do we need politics to deal with this? Isn’t politics stultifying, especially socialist politics, which Oscar Wilde once claimed “takes up too many evenings”? Marx and Engels’ answer is: because we cannot end this idiocy individually; because no market can ever emerge that will produce an antidote to this stupidity. Collective, democratic political action is our only chance for freedom and enjoyment. And for this, the long nights seem a small price to pay.

Humanity may succeed in securing social arrangements that allow for “the free development of each” as the “condition for the free development of all”. But, then again, we may end up in the “common ruin” of nuclear war, environmental disaster or agonising discontent. In our present moment, there are no guarantees. We can turn to the manifesto for inspiration, wisdom and energy but, in the end, what prevails is up to us.

***

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


Read also:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How CIA altered the ending of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' to project Communism as the sole tyrannic system

globinfo freexchange

This interesting short documentary by AJ+, explores the cultural war between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In an effort to project Communism as the evil against capitalist West and the "free world", CIA had to covertly interfere through various ways in art, music, literature, philosophy.

In one of these cases, the documentary reveals how CIA altered the ending of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' to project Communism as the sole tyrannic system. It is also interesting the fact that the case involved an animated film, indicating that CIA's cultural propaganda was targeting minor Americans in order to "train" them ideologically.

According to the story, George Orwell, who wrote such middle-school classics as 1984 and Animal Farm, described himself as a Democratic Socialist. And he was actually pretty anti-Stalinist and anti-Soviet-style socialism, something which was unusual among Leftist circles at the time.

Trump threatens to transfer the endo-capitalist war into a civil war level

globinfo freexchange
Donald Trump finally counter-attacked against corporate Democrats and their persistent desire to impeach him, through the ultimate threat: a civil war. In a recent tweet he wrote:
"... If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.
....If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
Speaking to the Real News Network, Jeet Heer of The Nation pointed out:
The civil-war tweet is almost like a threat. It’s like, 'Well, this is a nice little Republic you got here, and it’d be a shame if anything happened to it.' But the thing is that this civil-war talk did not originate from T…

Gaddafi's plan for a pan-African independent power as the main reason for which the Western neocolonialists finally destroyed Libya

'Hillary Clinton is a war criminal'
globinfo freexchange
Afshin Rattansi of RT's Going Underground, speaks with Muammar Gaddafi's spokesperson during the Libyan Civil War, Moussa Ibrahim, about how Gaddafi's government's predictions came true on terrorism, extremism and tribal conflict plaguing Libya following Gaddafi's downfall.
Ibrahim gives details about Gaddafi's plan to create a fully independent African Union from the Western neocolonial powers. And he implies that this was the main reason for which the Western neocolonialists finally destroyed Libya. He claims that Gaddafi administration was very open to a dialogue with the West, but he had been deliberately ignored. He also characterizes Hillary Clinton as a 'war criminal'.
Some key points:
Gaddafi was laying down real plans and real project for the control of African natural resources through the African Organization for Natural Resources. Unifying African armies into one army called th…

Roger Waters: militarism is exacerbating the Climate Crisis

The Real News Network
Pink Floyd co-founder and activist Roger Waters speaks to the Real News at the People's Mobilization Against the U.S. War Machine in New York City.

Why NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden risked his life to expose surveillance state

Democracy Now!
Six years ago, Edward Snowden leaked a trove of secret documents about how the United States had built a massive surveillance apparatus to spy on Americans and people across the globe. 
Snowden was then charged in the U.S. for violating the Espionage Act and other laws. As he attempted to flee to Latin America, Snowden became stranded in Russia after the U.S. revoked his passport. He has lived in Moscow ever since. 
Snowden just published his memoir, “Permanent Record,” in which he writes about what led him to risk his life to expose the U.S. government’s system of mass surveillance. 

Greta Thunberg: “We are striking to disrupt the system”

Democracy Now!
Greta Thunberg, is the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has inspired millions across the globe. Last year she launched a school strike for the climate, skipping school every Friday to stand in front of the Swedish parliament, demanding action to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Her protest spread, quickly going global. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren around the globe have participated in their own local school strikes for the climate.
Since her strike began in 2018, Greta has become a leading figure in the climate justice movement. She has joined protests across Europe. She has addressed world leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Poland and the European Union Parliament. She has even met the pope. 
She is also planning to attend the U.N. climate summit in Santiago, Chile, in December.

Το βαθύτερο νόημα του να κάνεις κολοτούμπες σε σύνοδο του ΟΗΕ

globinfo freexchange
Επικυρώθηκε με κάθε επισημότητα η μεγάλη απάτη του Μητσοτακικού καθεστώτος και του βρόμικου μιντιακού κατεστημένου της ντόπιας ολιγαρχίας, το οποίο έκανε τα πάντα, προκειμένου να κερδίσει τις εθνικές εκλογές η χειρότερη δεξιά της μεταπολίτευσης. 
Μετά τις θεαματικές κολοτούμπες Παναγιωτόπουλου-Βαρβιτσιώτη σε συνέδριο του Economist όσον αφορά το Μακεδονικό, ήρθε η σειρά του ίδιου του Μητσοτάκη να τους μιμηθεί, όχι απλά σε κάποιο συνέδριο, αλλά σε σύνοδο του ΟΗΕ για το κλίμα. 
Η δήλωση Μητσοτάκη δεν αφήνει κανένα περιθώριο παρερμηνείας:
«Νωρίς το απόγευμα της 23ης Ιουλίου πέρυσι μία μικρή πυρκαγιά ξέσπασε σε λόφο έξω από την Αθήνα. Οι πυροσβεστικές υπηρεσίες αντιμετωπίζουν χιλιάδες τέτοιες φωτιές κάθε χρόνο. Αυτή όμως ήταν διαφορετική. Οδηγημένη από ισχυρότατους ανέμους, εξαπλώθηκε γρήγορα και έφθασε στην προαστιακή κωμόπολη του Ματιού. Μόλις μπήκε στην πευκόφυτη οικιστική περιοχή κατέστη αδύνατο να περιοριστεί… Τα ακραία καιρικά φαινόμενα είναι η άμεση συνέπεια τη…

Το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς βάζει σε εφαρμογή το σχέδιο για τα σύγχρονα φέουδα

globinfo freexchange

Φαίνεται ότι αρχίζουν κιόλας να επαληθεύονται οι εκτιμήσεις σχετικά με τη δημιουργία Ειδικών Οικονομικών Ζωνών εντός της Ελληνικής επικράτειας. 
Όπως έχουμε αναφέρει σε πρόσφατο άρθρο, ο πρώτος μεγάλος στόχος του Μητσοτακικού καθεστώτος θα είναι η δημιουργία Ειδικών Οικονομικών Ζωνών εντός της Ελληνικής επικράτειας και το σχέδιο αναμένεται να ανακοινωθεί επίσημα γύρω στον Γενάρη-Φλεβάρη του 2020, εκτός απροόπτου. Οι νεοφιλελεύθεροι "τζιχαντιστές" της δεξιάς ετοιμάζονται να στρώσουν χαλί στους φεουδάρχες του 21ου αιώνα τους οποίους σήμερα αποκαλούμε "επενδυτές". 
Το σχέδιο θα εφαρμοστεί ανεμπόδιστα και σε πλήρη σύμπλευση με το νεοφιλελεύθερο ιερατείο του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου, καθώς οι φανατικοί τεχνοκράτες του Μητσοτάκη είναι απόλυτα αφοσιωμένοι στην επιτυχή ολοκλήρωσή του.

Όπως είναι φυσικό, οι περιοχές που προσφέρονται περισσότερο για την επιτυχή εφαρμογή του σχεδίου, είναι αυτές που παρουσιάζουν την υψηλότερη ανεργία. Με τη Μητσοτ…

'How dare you!': Greta Thunberg rages at 'fairytales of eternal economic growth' at UN climate summit

In a speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit Monday, Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg lit into world leaders for their "empty words" around solving the climate crisis and said decades of inaction have left her generation without a future.

"People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosytems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth," said Thunberg. "How dare you!
Thunberg delivered her remarks during a panel on the climate crisis after she was asked what she thought of the worldwide climate strike movement that she began, alone, 13 months ago. But the youth activist wasn't interested in rehashing the past or praise from politicians.

"I shouldn't be standing here," said Thunberg. "I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my d…

Chris Hedges: "Democracy has been destroyed by global capitalism"

Democracy Now!
House Democrats have subpoenaed President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, seeking documents related to his work in Ukraine, after Giuliani admitted on television that he had urged the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. This comes as House Democrats continue to build their case for impeaching the president, following a whistleblower complaint focused on a phone call in which Trump asked the Ukranian president to do him a “favor” by digging up dirt on his political rival ahead of the upcoming election. 
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges says the president's latest behavior merely scratches the surface of the underlying corruption and malaise that plagues the country, and describes global capitalism as an impediment to democracy. Currently, he says, "we have the façade of democracy." The capitalist class has leveraged its influence to draft legislation, invert the constitution and orchestrate the &…